Susan Nelson, associate professor and PTA program director
Aspiration as a teacher: “I aspire to be the type of teacher whom author Parker Palmer describes as ‘truly present in the classroom, deeply engaged with their students and their subject.’ Although I am inspired by his writings, there are many days when I am more inspired by our students who are working so hard to do it all-work, family, school and, despite many barriers, persist to be successful.”
A fit for St. Kate’s: “I have always felt at home in this environment even though I am not Catholic. I see the connection between my own core beliefs and the philosophy and mission of the university and the associate degree programs. This includes the importance of support and access for students who might not otherwise have the chance to succeed in college.”
Signs of success: "We have a strong record of graduates passing the licensure exam to become practicing PTAs. We hear from many graduates and their employers about their success. For me, it is especially rewarding to work along side our graduates in the clinical setting, and we invite many back as guest lecturers or to serve as faculty assistants."
Practice what you teach: "I continue to practice as a PT so I am able to see the shift in the health care environment up close and bring realistic examples into the classroom that students will likely face as professionals. I also am able to experience what I teach, including how to use an interpreter, adjust intervention approaches because of a religious or cultural belief, and see the impact of health care systematic changes that impact the delivery of physical therapy. In the past four years I have been involved in leadership development for aspiring/emerging program directors as a member of the committee that created the American Physical Therapy Association’s Educational Leadership Institute. This work has impacted my own leadership capacity and ability to serve as a model for our students."
Passion and commitment: “I am passionate about community engagement and becoming more skilled and knowledgeable in developing authentic partnerships with urban schools. Since 1993, I have been the university representative on the Roosevelt High School Health Careers Professional Advisory Board. As a program faculty we engage middle- and high-school students in development activities and look for opportunities to host field trips to St. Catherine’s campus.”
Education: B.S. and Certificate of Physical Therapy, University of Wisconsin-Madison; M.S., physical therapy, University of Minnesota.